Fake USB Flash Drives (eBay)

By , June 19, 2016

There are Bad People out there, who sell USB flash drives designed to show fake capacity values.

Over the past year, I’ve purchased a few dozen USB flash drives, with capacities ranging from 8GB to 256GB.  Some were genuine; most were fakes.

How so? These products are designed using components that provide much less capacity, but with circuits and/or code designed to “fake it” with a higher capacity.

Sometimes, the dubious nature of the products is obvious: if a 64GB device shows “62.4GB available space,” it’s always a fake (because a true 64GB device would actually show 59.3 or 59.4GB available storage capacity).  One 256GB Micro SD card actually showed “258GB available space.”

I tested each device (often twice).

The first test is a simple program called h2testw (which you can find here (German) or here (English).  It simply writes a series of 1GB files to the device, and then tries to read them back.  For devices claiming 64GB storage, the most frequent result was a real capacity of about 14.2GB.

The second test is exactly what you’d expect: copy your own files to fill at least half the drive’s capacity, then check to see if the files are actually there. I copied all my MP3 music, and it seemed to copy just fine, until I tried to play it back. Then, only a small portion of my music was actually accessible.

I’ve managed to get refunds for about a third of these.

My advice: don’t buy from “new” sellers with feedback under 100; read the feedback to see if the seller has been selling storage items for more than a month, and if so, read any complaints (note that many buyers won’t realize the item is fake, until they try to read back the data — which might be months or years later).  And note that some self-defined “US Sellers” aren’t in the US at all, but ship from Asia.

Two dozen fake USB and SD storage devices, all purchased on eBay, from sellers in Asia.

Two dozen fake USB and SD storage devices, all purchased on eBay, from sellers in Asia.

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